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Phillinc, Joim lierbej-t, 1853-1921. 

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In the Popular Science Monthly for January, 1878, Mr. 
Charles Pierce, an eminent American mathematician, pub- 
lished an article entitled, "How to Make Our Ideas Clear." 
Mr. Pierce emphasized the thought that "our beliefs are really 
rules for action," and that to determine the meaning of an 
idea, we need only to discover the action or the conduct that 
idea is fitted to produce. "The whole function of thinking," 
he said, "is the production of habits, and the true measure of 
any thought is its influence upon practical life ; for us, conduct 
is its sole significance. However subtle our thought distinc- 
tions may be, none of them is so fine that it cannot be ex- 
pressed in a possible difference of practice. To attain per- 
fect clearness in our thoughts of an object, then, we need only 
to consider what conceivable effects of a practical kind the ob- 
ject may involve — what sensations we are to expect from it 
and what reactions we must prepare. Our conception of 
these effects, whether immediate or remote, is, then, for us, 
the whole of our conception of the object, so far as that con- 
ception has positive significance at all." 

To the principle thus formulated, Mr. Pierce gave the 
name Pragmatism. The name lay unnoticed for twenty years, 
until in 1^8, Professor James, in an address before the Phil- 
osophical Union of the University of California, revived it 
and made a special application of the principle to religion. 
Professor John Dewey, formerly of Chicago, but now of Co- 
lumbia, in his "Studies in Logical Theory," made application 
of the principle to the province of logic under the name of 
Intsrumentalism, and Professor Schiller of Oxford later ap- 
plied the same principle to pure metaphysics under the title 
of Humanism. Professor James* more recent work entitled 
Pragmatism, is a volume of lectures first delivered before the 
Lowell Institute in 1906, and contains the author's most com- 
plete exposition of the subject. Since the publication of this 
work, numerous magazine articles have appeared and the lit- 
erature of the subject is rapidly increasing. No movement 
has created such a stir in the philosophic world since the days 
of Emerson's Transcendentalism, and while, to the average 

•A paper read before the Quid Pro Quo Club, 


reader, the whole movement thus far consists in little more 
than the name, the prediction is currently made that the move- 
ment has come to stay and that it is destined to revolutionize 
the world's philosophic thought. 

The word Pragmatism is derived from the Greek word 
pragma, meaning action, — the word from which we get our 
words practice and practical. James modestly calls it '*A new 
name for some old ways of thinking." This describes it fair- 
ly well, for whatever Pragmatism may mean in philosophy, it 
may be described as a collective name for certain tendencies 
in many different fields of thought; it has furnished a unify- 
ing point in which the dominant modes of thought in many 
diverse fields converge. As one reviewer remarks, "Like the 
Frenchman, who, when he took his first lesson in Rhetoric, was 
surprised to find that he had been talking prose all his life 
without knowing it, so mathematicians, scientists, logicians, 
theologians and metaphysicians, and even those who have 
never striven to advance beyond the level of plain common 
sense, discover at last that they have been pragmatists all their 
lives, and did not know it." 

Pragmatism does not pretend to be a new philosophy, nor 
does it propose to teach any new truth in science, philosophy 
or theology. All that is claimed for it is the fact that it is 
a method of testing or validating truth; it professes to teach 
how truth may be recognized, but not what truth is. As one 
critic puts it very briefly, ''Pragmatism insists on the correla- 
tion of philosophy to real life." Instead of turning backward 
for inspiration and deriving authority from the abstract, the 
absolute and the eternal, it looks forward and demands that 
every claimant for our recognition and belief shall be tested by 
its practical consequences. ''Grant an idea or belief to be true," 
says James, "what concrete difference will its being tnie make 
in anyone's actual life? What is truth's cash value in experi- 
mental terms?" "True ideas are those that we can assimilate, 
validate, corroborate and verify. False ideas are those that we 
cannot." Pragmatism thus apparently stands for no special set 
of truths or results, but is simply an attitude — "the attitude of 
looking away from certain assumed principles, first things, 
categories and abstractions and of looking forward towards 
last things, fruits, consequences, facts." 

To those who have studied Professor James' system of 
Psychology, his pragmatic method in philosophy will appear as 
a natural development and a logical consequence of certain 
psychological tenets with which his name has become identi- 
fied. In his psychology, James stands forth pre-eminently as 
the champion of the Ideo-motor theory, — a theory that is in 
itself pragmatic and constitutes a fitting foundation for the 
philosophy of pragmatism. The essence of this theory is the 
contention that all thoughts and ideas have a motor tendency, 
and that it is the inherent quality of thought to strive for con- 



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Crete expression. Every thought, every idea, and even con- 
sciousness itself, involves movement, and seeks incarnation in 
the concrete world of fact and activity. The world as we find 
it is therefore nothing but thought reacting upon matter. 

, Closely associated with the Ideo-motor theory of the in- 
tellect, is James* famous theory of the emotions and feelings, 
commonly known as the James-Lange Theory. Although not 
so universally accepted, it is equally striking in its pragmatic 
nature. Professor James contends that our feelings, such as 
anger, fear, love, hate, joy, grief, shame, pride and their varie- 
ties should not be regarded as absolutely individual things. 
"So long as they are set down as so many eternal and sacred 
• psychic entities, like the old immutable species in natural his- 
tory, so long all that can be done with them is reverently to 
catalogue their separate characters, points and effects." But 
just as we now regard species as the products of heredity and 
variation, so must we regard the emotions as the products of 
more general causes. Our feelings are not the cause, but the 
result of bodily changes. Perception of the exciting fact, — 
the thought or the idea involves movement only, and in itself, 
is emotionally colorless. But this perception is the immediate 
producer of certain bodily changes, and these bodily changes 
in turn cause the appropriate emotion. In other words, our 
feelings, instead of being the causes of our instinctive reac- 
tions, are effects produced by bodily disturbances and physical 
movements. Primitive man according to James, did not fight 
because he was angry, but became angry because he fought; 
he did not run away because he was afraid, but was afraid 
because he ran away. Under the conditions of primitive life, 
the emotions of anger and fear are thus superinduced by bod- 
ily changes essential to the struggle for existence. This re- 
versal of the theory of the emotions by the application of the 
principle of evolution has made James one of the most fa- 
mous psychologists of modern times. 

It is not my purpose to discuss James* psychological ten- 
ets further than to show their importance as planks in the 
platform of Pragmatism. The projection into the sphere of 
philosophy of these two contentions — namely, that it is the in- 
herent nature of thought to be alive and to move, and that 
feeling in all its forms is the physiological effect of movement, 
and the result of our instinctive reactions upon the outer 
world, is essentially the contribution of Professor James. This 
is the practical psychological basis of the pragmatic method 
which proposes to test all thought by its practical conse- 
quences, and to evaluate truth according to its power to affect 
human relations and human activities. While Pragmatism 
professes to be a method only, and to stand for no particu- 
lar results in philosophy or religion, it is evident from its very 
nature that it assumes an attitude which completely shuts out 
certain metaphysical assumptions of the extreme intellectual- 

istic type. It will not tolerate what James calls the solution of 
the world enigma by the use of certain magical words. The 
rationalistic type of philosopher names the principle of the 
Universe, God, Matter, Reason, the Absolute Energy, and then 
rests as if he possessed the universe itself. When you accept 
a magical word or an assumed theory as an explanation of the 
Universe, you are at rest; you have reached the end of your 
metaphysical quest. "But," says James, "if you follow the 
pragmatic method, you cannot look on any such word or the- 
ory as closing your quest. You must bring out of each its 
practical cash value, set it at work within the stream of your 
experience." Pragmatism thus assumes the empiricist attitude 
in philosophy, and aligns itself with what James describes as 
the "toughminded" in temperament, or those who rely upon 
facts, and against the ''tender-minded'* or the rationalistic 
type of mind. Pragmatism is primarily a protest against Pla- 
tonic Idealism and Hegelian absolutism. James draws this broad 
temperamental line which divides philosophers into two oppos- 
ing camps, and, while he claims to apply the pragmatic test im- 
partially to the two kinds of philosophy, he frankly admits at 
the outset that from its very nature it leans toward the tough- 
minded empiricist temperament which relies upon the facts 
of sense experience. The difference between pragmatism and 
rationalism is tersely expressed by James in this language: 
"For rationalism, reality is ready made, and complete from all 
eternity, while for pragmatism, it is still in the making and 
awaits part of its complexion from the future." 

The advocates of the theory of pragmatism use the term in 
several different senses. James uses the word in the first place 
as the name of a method of determining the meaning of pro- 
positions. A proposition is said to have a definite meaning 
only under certain conditions, and when it fails to conform to 
these requirements, pragmatism steps in and puts it out of 
court. A large class of propositions may thus be eliminated 
from consideration. To have any import to us, any proposi- 
tion that may be framed by the human mind must possess 
the following characteristics: 

1. It must have some reference to the future. 

2. It must involve some specific purpose; it is volitional 
and teleological. 

3. It must be practical, — that is, it must be capable of 
verification in concrete human experience. 

Pragmatism, standing upon the psychological theory al- 
ready stated, insists that the human mind is characteristically 
active and purposive, and all our judgments to have any mean- 
ing whatever for us, must be capable of redescending into the 
stream of our experience. We stand with our faces toward the 
future, and the significance of the present moment lies in 
its transitive character. Our faculty of judgment, of neces- 
sity, shares in this forward looking nature of all conscious 



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life. To judge is not to mirror things as they are merely, but 
to forecast things as they will be, and to adjust ourselves so 
that we may properly deal with these future facts. Any judg- 
ment, then, says the pragmatist, which has no reference to 
the future, and which cannot be returned to the stream of 
human experience for verification, has no meaning at all. 
The meaning of any proposition is precisely stated when you 
have made clear the specific concrete future experience im- 
plied in it. 

As an illustration of this fact. Professor James applies the 
test of pragmatism to the contest between materialism and 
theism. The materialist contends that the world is a work of 
matter only, while the theist insists upon a divine spirit as 
its author. So far as the past of the world goes, it makes no 
difference which is true. But imagine the world at an end, 
with all its contents irrevocably given and the idea of a future 
entirely cut off. Then, let a theist and a materialist apply 
their rival explanations of its history with equal success; the 
theist shows how God made it, and the materialist shows how 
it all resulted from blind physical forces. Hov/ can the prag- 
matist apply his test? "Concepts for him are things to come 
back into experience with, but by the terms of the hypothesis 
there is to be no more experience. Both theories have shown 
their consequences to be identical— their results are all cashed 
in. In spite of their different names, the two theories mean 
exactly the same thing and the dispute is purely a verbal con- 
test. Matter and God in that event mean the same thing — 
namely, the power that could make this completed world. As 
a principle of the universe, God is no better than matter, 
unless he promises more that is of actual experiential value. 
The proposition under these imposed conditions must be dis- 
missed by pragmatism as meaningless. If, on the other hand, 
we grant that the world is uncompleted, that it has a future, 
the alternative of theism or materialism becomes intensely prac- 
tical. Mr. Spencer, to avoid clerical implications on the one 
hand and the idea of grossness on the other, calls the primal 
mystery the "unknowable," instead of saying either God or 
matter. If philosophy were simply retrospective, he would be 
an excellent pragmatist; but philosophy is also prospective, 
and after finding what the world has done, still asks, "What 
does the world promise?" Theism and materiahsm taken 
retrospectively are indifferent, but taken prospectively point 
to wholly different outlooks of experience. Materialism by 
its mechanical explanations promises no continuance, but leads 
to dismal dissolution. It means the denial that the moral 
order is eternal and cuts off hope, while theism affirms the 
moral order of the universe and returns into the stream of 
experience with the hope and promise of a successful issue. 
Likewise, any definition that is incapable of application 
and verification within the range of future human experience 



IS worthless. The school boy is strictly pragmatic when he 
defines a knife as "something to whittle with/' and an orange 
as *'a fruit you can eat." 

But pragmatism has another meaning no less significant to 
philosophy than the one we have described. The term is 
used not only to determine the meaning of propositions, but 
also to indicate a certain theory as to the nature of truth; 
it is a method of determining comparative values and a prac- 
tical criterion of validity in the realm of philosophy. This 
carries us far into the deep waters of logic and epistemology, 
and we incur the danger of drifting or capsizing. I shall 
attempt a brief statement of the theory, however ambiguous 
it may be. In general, what entitles a proposition to be re- 
garded as true, is its functional value as an instrument which 
leads to the satisfaction of a vital need, or to the accom- 
plishment of some indispensable activity. Or, quoting Pro- 
fessor James, ''a proposition is true in so far as it will work," 
and ''ideas become true in so far as they help us to get into 
satisfactory relations with the rest of our experience." 

Truth depends upon its consequences. There is no ab- 
solute truth existing immutably and a priori in a superceles- 
tial world, and descending magically into passively recipient 
souls as rationalistic philosophers from Plato to Bradley and 
Royce have held. An assertion to be true must have meaning ; 
and in so far as it has meaning, it is functional and has con- 
sequences that are practical and good. If the consequences 
turn out to be valuable for our purposes, the assertion estab- 
lishes itself at least, as provisionally true. The truth of an 
assertion depends upon its application. Abstract truths are 
not fully truths at all; or they are truths out of use. In 
common life this principle is understood. Truth depends 
upon context, upon who said it, to whom, when and how and 
why. The abstract statement ''two and two make four" is 
always incomplete; it waits for application. We must know 
what twos and fours are meant. It would not be true of 
chairs and tables, joys and sorrows or of drops of water. 
"Truths to become true and to stay true, must be used ;" they 
are rules of action. A rule that is not applied rules nothing. 
It is true only in so far as it rules within a definite sphere of 
application marked out by experiment. All truth must thus 
have a human interest, and man is entitled to presume that 
he himself is the measure of his experience. This is what 
Schiller calls Humanism, and is differentiated from prag- 
matism as being broader and more comprehensive. The dis- 
covery of the principle Schiller attributes to Protagoras the 
Sophist, who, 450 years before the Christian Era, proclaimed 
the dictum that "Man is the measure of all things," and de- 
duced the theory that man is the maker of truth, which is 
the useful and the good in human life; that all truth depends 
upon human interest; that absolute, immutable eternal reality 





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does not yet exist, but when it does exist, it will be that which 
fulfills our every purpose, and which therefore we will not 
seek to change, but only to maintain. He said to Socrates 
and Plato and the other idealists of his time, "Your mistake 
lies in supposing such a reality to exist already as a unity or 
harmony, and as something we can start from. The abso- 
lutely real can be reached only through the apparently real 
by remoulding it into a perfect harmony." "Mere knowing," 
says Schiller, "is incapable of making or altering reality, mere- 
ly because it is an intellectual abstraction, which strictly speak- 
ing does not exist." In the pragmatic conception, knowing is a 
prelude to doing. Mere knowing is a fragment of a total 
process which in its unmutilated integrity always ends in 
action which tests the truth. Hence we must not confine our- 
selves to the intellectual fraction of the process, but consider 
the completed process as issuing in action and altering reality. 
In his work on logical theory. Dr. Dewey also emphasizes the 
fact that all truth, all theory and even thinking itself is 
instrumental. It is to be regarded not as an absolute, eternal 
reality, but as a temporary instrument to be remoulded by 
human experience and to be used as an instrument in the at- 
tainment of ultimate truth, and in reaching the ultimate real. 

"Our account of truth," says James, "is an account of 
truths in the plural, of processes of leading realized in rebus 
and having only this quality in common, that they pay." 
"Truth for us is simply a collective name for verification pro- 
cesses, just as wealth, health and strength are names for other 
processes connected with life, and also pursued because it pays 
to pursue them. Truth is made, just as wealth, health and 
strength are made, in the course of experience." 

The contrast between the pragmatist and the monistic 
rationalist with regard to their views concerning the struc- 
ture of the universe, James presents somewhat dramatically 
as follows : "On the pragmatist side we have only one edition 
of the universe, unfinished, growing in all sorts of places, es- 
pecially in the places where thinking beings are at work." 
"On the rationalist side we have a universe in many editions, 
one real one, the infinite folio, or edition de luxe eternally 
complete; and then the various finite editions, full of false 
readings, distorted and mutilated each in its own way." 

The rationalist thus assumes a preexisting and eternal uni- 
verse of truth, an immutable ideal, unexposed to the acci- 
dents of experience, to which the finite many are firmly an- 
chored. "Behind our de facto world there must be a de jure 
duplicate fixed and previous, with all that can happen here 
already there in posse. The truth of human experience ac- 
cording to the rationalist is a more or less accurate copy of 
this eternal reality which persists in calling upon us to agree 
with it, simply because its claim is unconditional and trans- 
cendent. To the pragmatist, truth is a process based upon 

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the facts of human experience, and "the true is only the 
expedient in the way of our thinking, just as the right is 
only the expedient in the way of our behaving.'* Pragmatism 
thus reiterates the position of Greek Philosophy by identifying 
the true with the good and the useful. 

But it must not be supposed that the pragmatist does away 
with prmciples and abstract truths. The difference is a mat- 
ter of outlook and emphasis. "Our ready-made ideal frame- 
work for all sorts of possible objects follows from the very 
structure of our thinking," says James. "We can no more 
play fast and loose with these abstract relations than we can 
do so with our sense experiences. They coerce us; we must 
treat them consistently, whether or not we like the results.'* 
But to him principles, truths, beliefs, are funded experience. 
Such principles or truths may be accepted by us as a priori, 
but they have not always been so accepted. On the other 
hand, they have been derived from experience, and to live at 
all must be capable of verification by experience. Truth lives 
for the most part on a credit system; it passes so long as 
it goes unchallenged, like a bank note; but this means that 
there is a point of verification somewhere. The pragmatist 
believes in the ideal and the absolute, not as an origin, but 
as an ultimate to which all finite processes point. He takes 
the \yorld's perfection, not as a necessary principle, but as a 
terminus ad quern. 

It now remains to suggest some of the practical applica- 
tions of the method of pragmatism. The natural sciences — 
physics, chemistry, geology, etc., are so plainly pragmatic in 
their methods that any illustration would seem superfluous. 
Scientific principles and formulas are worthless except as 
they are verified by the tests of the laboratory. Scientific 
assumptions and theories are true only so far as they serve 
as working hypotheses — or truths pro tempore and instru- 

In the sphere of government and economics it is unnec- 
essary to prove the contention of pragmatism — that principles 
and standards of value change with the flux of human ex- 
perience. History is a graveyard of dead principles that once 
held sway as eternal truths and absolute rights. The divine 
right of kings, and human slavery, are no longer held as 
divinely ordained and immutable principles. They have 
yielded to new truths evolved by the process of human ex- 
perience. Goodness, honesty and integrity are valued not as 
abstract virtues, but because they work; efficiency is the key- 
note of the age. 

The pragmatic tendencies of modern education require 
no illustration. All education today to be of worth must be 
of service. Knowledge for its own sake, truth for truth's 
sake, and art for art's sake are decadent phrases in the lan- 
guage of the schools. 



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In the field of logic. Professor Dewey by his instrumental 
view of truth threatens the very foundation of the traditional 
method. The "correspondence-with-reality" view of truth, 
"together with the realisms and idealisms in which it is in- 
volved have been so seriously shaken that the logician is 
already casting about for a new theory of logic." 

The province of metaphysics contains important prob- 
lems to some of which James applies the method of pragma- 
tism and which Schiller in his work on Humanism treats criti- 
cally and effectively. Among these are the problems of Sub- 
stance, Determinism and Freewill, the problem of Design, and 
the problem of the One and the Many. To treat these prob- 
lems of metaphysics in the light of pragmatism would carry 
us so far afield and into such mists and fogs that I deem the 
effort too perilous for me at the present. These problems are 
important, however, because they • underlie the world's theol- 
ogy and its philosophy. Let me briefly present some of James' 
conclusions: The old scholastic notion of Substance has but 
one pragmatic application, and that is found in the doctrine 
of transubstantiation as applied to the Eucharist. Berkeley's 
treatment of material substance is strictly pragmatic when he 
makes the meaning and significance of matter to consist solely 
of our sensations of color, form, hardness and the like. The 
notion of spiritual substance was likewise treated pragmati- 
cally by Locke and Hume when they reduced the problem 
of personal identity to its practical value in terms of exper- 
ience. The soul is good or true for just so much as is re- 
vealed by consciousness and no more. The problem of sub- 
stance is at the basis of any philosophical view of the world 
and leads to the contention between the materialistic and the- 
istic explanations. 

Pragmatism considers each impartially and with its eyes 
characteristically on the future concludes: "Spiritualistic 
faith in all its forms deals with a world of promise, while 
materialism's sun sets in a sea of disappointment." The prin- 
ciple of design as a rationalistic proof of the existence of God 
is worthless for pragmatism, except as our faith concretes 
it into something theistic— a term of promise. "We can study 
our God," says the pragmatist, "only by studying his crea- 
tion. But we can enjoy our God, if we have one, in advance 
of all that labor." Upon this point James makes a significant 
remark: "I myself believe that the evidence for God lies 
primarily in inner personal experiences." 

Pragmatism naturally welcomes indeterminism and the 
freedom of the will as a melioristic doctrine — ^because "it holds 
up improvement as at least possible, whereas determinism as- 
sures us that our whole notion of possibility is born of human 
ignorance and that necessity and impossibility between them 
rule the destinies of the world." With regard to the prob- 
lem of Monism and Pluralism, pragmatism admits the total- 


ity or coherence of the universe, but cannot accept any unity 
in advance of empirical ascertainment. "Under the present 
conditions of human experience, the hypothesis of a world 
imperfectly unified, and possibly always to remain so, must 
be entertained as the most acceptable working hypothesis." 

The application to theology and religion involves a more 
critical discussion of its underlying metaphysical problem^; 
than I can give here. Speaking broadly, pragmatism recog- 
nizes three philosophical attitudes with regard to the notion 
of the world's possibilities,—a notion that underlies the whole 
question of religion. Rationalism intellectually falls back 
upon the absolute principle of unity as the ground of no^si- 
bihty for the multitude of existing facts, and emotionally re- 
gards that unity as a guarantee that all will come out right 
in the end. The rationalist lies back upon the principle ol 
absolute perfection as a guarantee of security and regards the 
world's salvation as inevitable. This is the attitude o-' philo- 
sophic optimism, and leads to quietism or indifferentism. You 
simply look back or lie back upon the absolute, confident that 
you are safe and that the world is safe. "Pragmatism," says 
James, ^;must respect this attitude, for it has massive historic 

The second attitude is that of philosophic pessim'sm, as 
represented by Schopenhauer and others who are so unhappy 
and miserable as to believe the world's salvation impossible. 
Midway between these stands the doctrine of meliorism* 
which treats the salvation of the world neither hs a foregone 
conclusion nor as an impossibility. To this view pragmatism 
inclines, and the doctrine of meliorism is then contrasted with 
that of optimism. The former makes man an active agent— 
a co-worker with God in securing ultimate results Life is 
a risk and a real adventure. The latter eliminates all risk 
and provides in advance a scheme of insurance ugainst indi- 
vidual or cosmic disaster. This is essentiallv the attitude of 
the Buddhist, who is afraid of more experience and seeks 
Nirvana as an escape from the adventures of this world of 

And yet, the pragmatist concedes the value of this attitude 
to the sick soul and to the discouraged in life. When our own 
life breaks down, it is a comfort to fall back ujx^n the "Ever- 
lasting Arms,"— to take the prodigal son attitude, to give up 
all— fall on our father's neck and be absorbed into the abso- 
lute life as a drop of water melts into the nver or the sea. 
Professor James admits the possibility of pragmatically recon- 
ciling the two attitudes, but, speaking for himself, says, "I 
find myself willing to take the universe to be really danger- 
ous and adventurous, without therefore backing out and cry- ' 
ing *no play.' I am willing to think that the prodigal son at- 
titude, open to us as it is in many vicissitudes, is noi the right 
and final attitude towards the whole of Hfe. . . . I can believe 


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in the ideal as an ultimate, not as an origin, and as a.i extract 
not the whole." The genuine pragmatist, he insists, is "willing 
to live on a scheme of uncertified possibilities which he trusts ; 
willing to pay with his own person, if needs be, for the realiza- 
tion of the ideals which he frames. 

This tendency towards a more active, robust and aggres- 
sive religious life, and away from the inactive, contemplative, 
supine and supplicative attitude, described by Professor James, 
is today evidenced in many ways that will readily occur to us. 
The prayer meeting is no longer functional in the life of the 
church as it was in former years; the experience meeting 
of fifty years ago is a vanishing institution. Church hymn- 
ology as an expression of religious sentiment and experience 
has undergone a radical change in twenty-five years. Many 
of the old popular hymns have been abandoned and others 
though retained in the hymn books are seldom used. I re- 
member as a boy the ecstasy of satisfaction with which the 
old people sang: 

"We are but children under age, 
Awaiting still our heritage; 
The promise of our Father's will 
Our hearts' desire must yet fulfill." 

We no longer sympathize with the supine and inactive 
attitude of heirs, waiting for an estate; our heritage, on the 
other hand, is here and now, and religious duty calls upon us 
to occupy it and to improve it. Religion today is more prag- 
matic, because it recognizes the real core of the matter to 
be practical life and conduct in the present tense, not merely 
a sigh for the time — 

"When I can read my title clear 
To mansions in the skies." 

In certain moods of religious experience, as noted by 
Professor James, there may be pragmatic value in the senti- 
ment : 

"I'm a pilgrim and Tm a stranger, 
I can tarry, I can tarry, but a night." 

It is difficult, however, to see what religious mood, unless 
it be the abandonment of all life, can justify the rhapsody :— - 

"Nothing either great or small, 
Remains for me to do ; 
Jesus died and paid it all, 
Yes, all the debt I owe." 

And another hymn of my boyhood days always impressed 


me as foreign to human experience, religious or otherwise : 

"I want to be an angel, 

And with the angels stand, 
A crown upon my forehead, 
A harp within my hand." 

Old Martin Luther, whatever his metaphysical presuppo- 
sitions, in his immortal hymn, "Ein Feste Berg ist unser Gott," 
was pragmatist enough to leave a loop hole for experience and 
human agency in the final triumph of truth, when he sang : 

"And though this world with devils filled, 

Should threaten to undo us, 
We will not fear, for God hath willed 
His truth to triumph through us." 

It will be interesting to note the position of pragmatism 
with regard to Reason and Faith as factors in religion. Rea- 
son is not a faculty, but stands for a group of habits useful in 
carrying on the business of life. Among these habits may 
be mentioned the power of inhibiting our instinctive reactions 
until we break up the complex by reflection and analysis. 
This analysis involves thinking which implies the use of con- 
cepts; these concepts ultimately depend upon certain prin- 
ciples that have long been regarded as fundamental truths 
or axioms, but which pragmatism regards as mere postulates. 
A postulate is not a self-evident, necessary truth. It is an 
assumption whose validity is uncertain until tested by exper- 
iment. It is established ex post facto by its practical success. 
In so far as reasoning rests on postulates, our acceptance 
implies faith, or a belief in a verification yet to come. Back 
of reason therefore, in science as well as in religion, we 
find Faith. All the truths of science presuppose faith. Faith 
is defined as a "mental attitude, which, for purposes of ac- 
tion, is willing to take upon trust valuable and desirable be- 
liefs, before they have been proved true, but in the hope 
that this attitude, may promote their verification." By this 
definition, Faith is (i) an attitude of will— of the whole 
personality, not of the abstract intellect. (2) It is concerned 
with values and eliminates the worthless and unimportant. 
(3) It involves risks and real dangers, and is therefore to 
be taken seriously. (4) It involves verification by its prac- 
tical working as an essential element. In every instance 
faith must justify itself by works. ' 

Pragmatism thus establishes the mutual relations of Rea- 
son and Faith both in science and religion. It gives a practi- 
cal test by which spurious faith may be eliminated, but ob- 
jects to the abstract intellectual process that depersonalizes 
truth and dehumanizes faith. B^h are distinctly human,— 

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both are personal. Covering the vast diversity of faiths in 
the world, shall we seek to eliminate all competitors but one? 
Here the pragmatist asks a few suggestive questions: 
(i) The processes of reason and faith are still in flux and in- 
complete; what right have we to expect final results from an 
incomplete process? (2) What right have we to assume 
that even ultimate truth must be one and the same for all? 
(3) Should we be alarmed because the growth of truth pro- 
ceeds with such exuberance along divergent lines in religion; 
do we not find the same diversity of interpretation in science, 
philosophy and economics? (4) May not the divergent be- 
liefs and plurality of opinions entertained constitute the data 
necessary to an adequate theory of knowledge and of religion ? 

Pragmatism touches the divergent concrete religious faiths 
and beliefs of mankind sympathetically, and respects the re- 
ligious endowment of human nature whatever its evidences 
or modes of expression may be. All religions work prag- 
matically to some extent, in spite of their theoretical difficulties, 
but these theoretical and theological difficulties are unim- 
portant, because they are either non- functional or pragmat- 
ically equivalents. The really functional parts of all relig- 
ions are practically identical. Religion will be benefited and 
strengthened therefore by getting rid of these non- functional 
accretions and appendages, inherited from former ages. It 
should unburden itself of those mystical metaphysical specula- 
tions which have always been too obscure to be truly functional 
in life and conduct. 

To really promote the cause of religion, we must restore 
the human predicate to our completed judgments; we must 
make our thought processes complete, by restoring the element 
of action ; we must renounce that form of faith which stands 
for intellectual indolence and unwillingness to think and 
through our personal volition inculcate that robuster form, 
which by a continual quest for verification, seeks to complete 
and justify itself by works. 

For the philosophy of pragmatism. Religion as well as 
Science must have her postulates, upon which all reasoning 
must be based. Behind her reasoning there must be faith. 
Back of her postulates there must be "the Will to Believe." 
She is willing to accept as her working postulates such con- 
cepts as God and Immortality, Freedom of the Will and Prayer, 
Confession and Sacrament ; but each in turn is called upon 
to give an adequate account of itself in our human experience, 
and to justify itself by proving its validity. There are no 
narrow boundaries set for the province of religious faith, 
provided it must always remain within the range of human 
experience. But the pragmatist unequivocally favors the re- 
ligious attitude of healthy-mindedness, rather than that of the 
mentally diseased. While all faith must be validated by its 
results in human experience, Professor James would not place 




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any arbitrary limitations even upon the realm of experience. 
He says: "I firmly disbelieve, myself, that our human ex- 
perience IS the highest form of experience extant in the 
universe. I believe rather that we stand in much the same 
relation to the whole of the universe, as our canine and fe- 
hne pets do to the whole of human life. But just as many 
of the dog's and cat's ideals coincide with our ideals, and the 
dogs and cats have daily living proof of the fact. So we 
may well believe, on the proofs that religious experience af- 
fords, that higher powers exist and are at work to save the 
world, on ideal lines, similar to our own." The expression 
of this "overbelief,'' as Professor James calls it, is interest- 
ing because it explains his attitude towards Psychical Re- 
search, and toward such supernatural beliefs as spiritualism. 
Christian science and other divergent faiths— an attitude that 
has subjected him to severe criticism." If such overbeliefs 
are essential to the individual's religion, he thinks we should 
treat them with tenderness and tolerance so long as they are 
not intolerant themselves. But more than this, his idea of 
the subconscious and the supraconscious, makes possible for 
him the inflow into our conscious life, of energy and power 
from other spheres of consciousness, with which we may 
come in contact and communion through the "faith state and 
the prayer state." 

This paper is submitted as an imperfect statement, with- 
out criticism, of a theory that is as yet but imperfectly de- 
veloped, but which in my judgment is destined to influence 
our civilization more profoundly than any movement of the 
past and to prepare the way for a more aggressive attitude 
towards life's problems, whether educational or social, eco- 
nomic or religious. 




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